Sonny Chiba is a sort of karate-assassin-enforcer-type who is also a master of ridiculous disguises, calling to mind vintage Mission Impossible. He’s caught up in a plot involving the formula for synthetic heroin, a crooked D.A. who is also a mystical martial arts master, a mobster’s saucy sister and a villainous Mexican who has the enormous sombrero to prove it as well as, apparently, laser powers.
Suffering a bit from 4:3 cropping in this 1983 VTC pre-cert release, The Streetfighter’s Last Revenge, as directed by Shigehiro Ozawa, has that ’70s urban thriller aesthetic – there’s a funky soundtrack and crash zooms abound. Indeed, during the first conversation between Chiba’s character and the D.A., virtually each and every line is on a crash zoom, mirrored at the start of their final fight scene. There’s some unintentionally funny dubbing, of course (“Stinker!”) and some positively weird jump-cut editing during a climactic foot chase. The fights are rough and ready but effective, as you might expect where Chiba is involved – one of the most qualified onscreen martial artists of all time, I believe. Oh, and he is very cool. Take his first on-camera moment. Initally seen only in the form of another actor entirely, due to the aforementioned Martin-Landau-in-Mission-Impossible skill set, Chiba removes his ‘other actor mask’ before introducing himself: “… some people call me The Street Fighter.” Smiles to camera, freeze frame, zoom in with dramatic horn cue for title card. Brilliant.
The third and final entry in Ozawa’s Street Fighter series, The Streetfighter’s Last Revenge (or The Street Fighter’s Last Revenge/Streetfighter’s Last Revenge/Street Fighters Last Revenge, depending on where you look) is not a fan favourite. The preceding films are insanely, infamously violent, straight up blood-and-guts martial arts thrillers, so for many the “budget Bond” affectations on display here are several camp flourishes too many. It’s no classic but I liked it enough to find myself tempted to track down a Street Fighter DVD box set, all widescreen and subtitled and that.